E.only meet a legend on the phone? Belongs to the craft of a journalist in this messed up year. And in this case the term legend is not an exaggeration. Anjelica Huston is the only person to have won an Oscar in the third generation. She was dating two of the wildest lads of the 1960s and 1970s (photographer Bob Richardson, then Jack Nicolson), and she began her acting career at the age of 17 in a film by her father John, with whom she promptly fell out.
She has starred in great and also in silly films, she became immortal as Morticia Addams, the macabre-elegant clan boss of the family of the same name. Now she has played in a commercial for the Gucci perfume “Bloom” – and has remained true to herself: as a woman who combines glamor, horror and humor.
ICONIST: Good morning to Los Angeles and congratulations on making your gig. But what exactly do you play?
Anjelica Huston: Thank you very much. Nice little movie, isn’t it? I play a high priestess in the garden of dreams. She is a distant relative of Morticia Addams. I like witch-like roles. You can go to the extreme.
ICONIST: How was the shooting?
Huston: That was pretty much a year ago. So before Corona. We could actually travel and film in a real place. It was incredibly hot in Umbria and we danced around in those long robes, I don’t even want to think about it.
ICONIST: How did the creative director Alessandro Michele convince you?
Huston: He didn’t have to. Gucci is a great brand with a long history. And I liked the concept. In today’s political climate, especially in the US, this is a much-needed little escape from reality.
ICONIST: Was Gucci important when you were a model yourself in the 1970s?
Huston: For me it goes back even further. When my father was filming “The Bible” in Rome, he bought me my first handbag. His assistant went shopping with me and bought me these shoes with the double halter. As a little girl, I was very impressed.
ICONIST: I am currently reading the book “Dolce Vita Confidential” about the film industry and how it changed Rome after World War II. How did the city look back then through the eyes of a young girl?
Huston: Everything is exciting through such eyes. I was living in Ireland at the time and went to a nuns school. Visiting my father at the Grand Hotel in Rome was crazy: the museums, the architecture, the art. Rome opened my eyes.
ICONIST: Was it already clear to you then that you wanted to become an artist?
Huston: I didn’t really have a choice. I was too bad at school.
ICONIST: Your career then began with a role with your father in the film “A Journey with Love and Death”.
Huston: It wasn’t a great experience for either of us. My mother had just died and he wanted to tell me what to do. After that, I moved to New York, became a model, and stood on my own two feet. I also wanted a job that wasn’t quite as demanding psychologically.
ICONIST: In her memoir, Grace Jones describes the fashion world of the 70s as pretty wild …
Huston: She was a little earlier and a shining role model, even if Grace was more of a performance artist than a real model. It was a time of experimentation. And I learned a lot …
ICONIST: What then?
Huston: Traveling to Corsica with David Bailey and Manolo Blahnik was special. Manolo was just always funny. We just laughed for two weeks. Every morning he stepped out on the terrace and shouted “Vive la Corse!”
ICONIST: Why does he understand women’s feet so well?
Huston: He can’t help it. Manolo once explained to me how much he loved my father’s film “Misfits”: “Because of that scene with Marilyn’s feet”. He doesn’t see anything else.
ICONIST: Have you kept your outfits?
Huston: When I last moved, I think in 2008, I decided to give almost everything to museums. I kept some of my Oscar outfits.
ICONIST: What was your best Oscar dress?
Huston: The one-armed green dress I wore when I received the Academy Award for “The Honor of the Prizzis”. I designed it myself, with the help of Betsy from Western Costume. She sent me to the Beverly Silks & Wool fabric store to pick a fabric. When I saw this Irish green silk fabric, my decision was made. The dress brought me luck.
ICONIST: Today you can hardly imagine that. Anyone who is nominated is showered with Oscar outfits by the fashion houses …
Huston: We were a little more relaxed. And I can’t remember any brand that tried to dress me. The innocence has been lost. Today the most important question on the red carpet is, “Who are you wearing?”
ICONIST: Was your then partner Jack Nicholson jealous that you got an Oscar and he didn’t?
Huston: I do not think so. He was just proud of me. Quite a few were nominated that year, including my father. I was the only winner. And I would not have let that spoil me either.
I.CONIST: Did you play all the roles you wanted?
Huston: You know, that’s not the way to go about it. Some things slip through your fingers, others fit perfectly. And there is always a new role.
ICONIST: When you were offered the role of Morticia Addams, did you suspect how big it was going to be?
Huston: Honestly no, although producer Scott Rudin and director Barry Sonnenfeld both had a good run right now. I met her at the Beverly Hills Hotel and my first question was, why don’t you guys take Cher?
ICONIST: Why that?
Huston: If I did a casting for Morticia Addams, she would be the first one I would think of. Today I might shut up and be happy about the offer.
ICONIST: Then you have too. Luckily. You created an icon.
Huston: Yes, I love the Morticia Addams candles and the absurd merchandise.
ICONIST: You also directed. What do you find easier?
Huston: It’s worst when you’re in front of and behind the camera. As an actress, I get absorbed in the role, and there is a certain freedom in that. As a director, I have to be everything for everyone. Suddenly you have to decide which chair you want in a certain scene … And then also be there for the other actors.
ICONIST: Are Actors Difficult?
Huston: I find women easier. Telling men what to do is not so easy for me. But there are also wonderful men.
ICONIST: One of them is director Wes Anderson, with whom you worked on three films.
Huston: Strangely, I dreamed about him last night. What else was that? It was about some project. As always with him. He works so precisely, almost mathematically. As if his films were geometric puzzles. And everything seems so easy. When I read the script for Darjeeling Limited, I thought, “Sounds like a nice vacation”. In India it was hard work. (laughs)
ICONIST: You yourself work hard to save chimpanzees. How come
Huston: I grew up as an Irish fox hunter, today I am a member of Peta. When I learned how chimpanzees are kept in laboratories, I couldn’t stand it. Nothing against white mice, but they are better suited for experiments. A friend named John Striker tries to treat the laboratory monkeys and reintegrate them into monkey families. That is difficult because they are severely traumatized. We have to apologize to them.
ICONIST: Chimpanzees can be very wild and dangerous. Can humans and monkeys be friends?
Huston: It depends on us. We should leave the animals in their natural environment and alone.
ICONIST: The Gucci perfume is called “Bloom”. If you were born again as a flower, which one would it be?
Huston: I would just take two: rose and lily. Preferably together.
Anjelica Huston, Hollywood Icon: The actress was born in 1951 to director John Huston and Italian prima ballerina Enrica Soma. In the course of her career she was involved in nearly 100 film and television productions. For her appearance in the mafia epic “The Honor of the Prizzis” she received the Oscar for best supporting role, and she has directed several times herself. Houston sits on the advisory board of the animal welfare organization Save the Chimps, which is directed against experiments with great apes. HZ
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